BERLIN • German police have arrested five men suspected of links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who allegedly sought to recruit fighters for the terrorist group.
"The five accused formed a pan-regional Salafist-jihadist network, with the accused Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A. taking on the leading role," said a statement yesterday from the prosecutors' office, referring to a 32-year-old Iraqi.
"The aim of the network led by him is to send people to IS in Syria," it added, using another acronym of ISIS.
Turkish national Hasan C. and German-Serb Boban S. were allegedly tasked with teaching the recruits Arabic as well as indoctrinating them with Islamist content.
While the group's leader had the authority to approve and organise any departures to Syria, he allegedly left the actual implementation of the plans to two other men detained yesterday, German national Mahmoud O. and Cameroonian Ahmed F. Y.
At least one young man and his family have been sent by the network to join ISIS in Syria, prosecutors added.
The five men were arrested in the northern state of Lower Saxony and the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, German media reported.
According to figures released in May by German intelligence services, 820 militants have left Germany for Syria and Iraq.
Almost a third have returned and 140 were killed while abroad, while around 420 are still in Syria or Iraq.
Germany has so far been spared large-scale terrorist attacks. But it was shaken by two assaults claimed by ISIS and carried out by asylum- seekers - an axe rampage on a train in Wuerzburg that injured five, and a suicide bombing in Ansbach in which 15 people were hurt.
Police said last month they had foiled an alleged plot by a Syrian refugee to bomb one of Berlin's airports.